Miss Alphabet's Top Ten Underrated 80's Albums!

It's no secret that I LOVE the 80's and I was raised on its new wave music. Most people I know can definitely go for the Tainted Love's and Take on Me's, but digging deeper into an artist's work (IE non-singles and lesser known albums) definitely opens up a whole new world of music. 
So, a combination of YouTube research and revisiting $1 cassettes I've collected over the years brings you some of my favorite less appreciated albums from the 80's. Some of which you may not have ever heard of, or some of which you might know a song or two from. 
And no, not in any particular order.

1. Big Country - The Crossing

big country's "the crossing" album cover
It was actually the late 90's when I discovered this Scottish band (and when I say Scottish, I mean guitars that sound like friggin' bagpipes) when the "In A Big Country" video was playing on VH1. My next trip to Amoeba Records resulted in me purchasing this album on cassette. 

Ahh, those rugged outdoorsmen. Anyways, my favorite tracks are the aforementioned "In A Big Country," "Harvest Home," and "The Storm" (listen to the whole thing, it marvelously jumps between Scottish folk and 80's rock).


SING IT, Stuart Adamson (RIP). You were absolutely darling.

 2. Mary Jane Girls - In My House (The Very Best of)

On the more soul side of things, we have Rick James' protegee girl group, The Mary Jane Girls. And yes, this is a compilation. It's MY list, dangit!

They've officially disbanded in 1987, though I've seen that some of the group members performed small shows under "from The Mary Jane Girls" in recent years. 

Highlights: "In My House," "All Night Long," "Wild and Crazy Love."

3. Strawberry Switchblade - Strawberry Switchblade

This is kind of a "duh" for me, and I am happy to see more people "discover" these talented Scottish ladies (Rose McDowall and Jill Bryson). I've long been an admirer of their style aesthetic and their perkier goth side.

Another tragic story of how record companies expect (especially female) artists to conform to what sells, in the case it was synthpop over their melancholy acoustic sound. My preference for synthpop being the double edge sword, of course.

Fun fact: their cover of "Jolene" was the first version I ever heard. Other highlights are "10 James Orr Street" and "Deep Water."

Honorable mention: Rose McDowall's cover of "Don't Fear the Reaper."

4. Simple Minds - Once Upon a Time

Simple Minds once upon a time album cover

Oh look, the third Scottish band on this list (and yes, I didn't even know where they were from until a few years ago). I picked up this album from a tiny mountain town thrift shop for a dollar and it will forever remind me of driving in the mountains. And "Alive and Kicking" gives me friggin' GOOSEBUMPS.

I am not a religious person, but there's something to be said for successfully including Christian undertones that aren't OUR LORD AND SAVIOR AND REDEEMER. (I also love U2's War for that reason.)

Highlights: "All The Things She Said," "Once Upon a Time," and "Sanctify Yourself."

5. Naked Eyes - Naked Eyes

This is definitely one of the albums where you'd instantly recognize a couple of their hits (namely the widely covered Burt Bacharach/Hal David song "Always Something There to Remind Me."

Also a random thrift store cassette find. Every track is a bop.

Highlights: "I Could Show You How," Voices In My Head," and "Low Life."

6. The Cure - The Top

the cure's "the top" album cover

Another "duh" album from me, because The Cure is only the best band ever. It's been said that this album was almost totally conceived on magic mushrooms and I believe it.  

This album also holds a special place in my heart, I still have my cassette copy that was gifted to me when I was 11. This is also drummer Andy Anderson's only album (save for a few other Cure/related songs), and I had the pleasure of connecting with him on Facebook until his death from cancer in March 2019. 

Did I mention the single from this album was the reason I became a fan? (Official video is not available in the US, unfortunately.)

Highlights: "Birdmad Girl," Shake Dog Shake," and "Dressing Up."

7. Cindy Valentine - Speak Your Mind

Recognize the name? Probably not. Recognize her from a certain 80's teen movie? Hmmm..

Admittedly, Teen Witch is how I discovered her. She did indeed cowrite "Never Gonna Be The Same Again" and "Finest Hour" from the soundtrack.

Anyway, back to the album (yes, it's also a compilation). Jumping between synthpop and freestyle (you just can't go wrong), highlights are "In Your Midnight Hour," "Just a Little Bit Of Love," and "Easy Come Easy Go."

8. Ministry - With Sympathy


A lot of us can relate to "Every Day is Halloween" (not on this album) which of course is what introduced me to this (formerly) synth act. I'm a big lover of synthpop, as you can tell, so you can imagine my surprise when I looked up the rest of the catalog to find they've switched to metal/industrial. Sorry guys, I know Al Jourgensen hates it, but I prefer the older stuff. 

Highlights: "Work for Love," "I Wanted to Tell Her," and "Effigy (I'm Not An)."

9. New Order - Movement

I will never understand the amount of hate this album got. This is witnessing New Order rising from the ashes of Joy Division after Ian Curtis' suicide, and it's beautiful.

Being a transitional album, there of course was a lot going on at the time of recording, especially without Curtis' input. The addition of Gillian Gilbert on synth also helped with their transition to more dance/synthpop. 

Highlights include "ICB," "Chosen Time," and "The Him." 

Honorable mentions are a few of this album's B-sides (later released on a compilation), as they're some of my favorite New Order tracks: "Everything's Gone Green," "Procession," and "Mesh."

10. The Jam - In The City

the jam's in the city album cover

Not familiar with the mod revivalist movement? Didn't last too long, unfortunately. These guys married 60's mod and 70's punk and the result is an absolute fun fest. Yes, I know this album came out in 1977. Nyah.

Highlights: "Batman Theme," "Art School," and a cover of Larry Williams' "Slow Down."


Honorable Mentions:

Nope, not stopping at 10. Too much good stuff came out during this era. Here are five more 80's albums worth checking out. 

They Might Be Giants - They Might Be Giants

Quirky and fun as hell.

they might be giants self titled album cover

B52's - Cosmic Thing

Ignore "Love Shack." Yes, I said it. The rest is fantastic.


Joe Jackson - Night and Day

Perfect marriage of Broadway showtunes and new wave (think George Gershwin meets Elvis Costello).

Expose' - Exposure

You're taking meeeeee to the point of no return! Lots of fun freestyle beats.


Madness - One Step Beyond...

Need an immediate mood boost? Might I suggest these guys? 


What are YOUR favorite underrated 80's albums? Songs? Artists? Comment below!

xoxo Liz



  • you have excellent taste in music :)

  • Cosmic Thing is a perfect album from start to finish!

  • Cosmic Thing is a perfect album from start to finish!

  • Yeeesss Strawberry Switchblade 🔪🍓 and synthpop Ministry! 💯 I would recommend Cristina’s ‘Sleep It Off’ album if you don’t already know it! 💗


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